What is ESL Editing?
English editing is a difficult task for native speakers and often doubly difficult for non-native speakers. This is why many English editing services offer specialized English as a Second Language (ESL) editing services. Vital research is done globally, and English is the global language it is shared in. ESL editing is offered to ensure ESL researchers and writers do not have their important papers rejected from prestigious journals and publications simply due to poor English. This means that ESL editing goes beyond the normal scope of editing for documents written by native English speakers to target specific issues that ESL writers have. In addition to technical problems like grammar, punctuation, spelling, word choice, and clarity, ESL editing covers structural coherence, overall suggestions for improvement, rewriting of awkward sentences, and the addition of transitional sentences. Because ESL editing often blurs the line between editing and revision, it often requires native English speaking editors with highly specialized subject-area expertise in addition to sharp English editing skills.
What are Editing and Proofreading?
Before we discuss the specific tasks that ESL editing involves, let’s talk about what English editing and English proofreading entail. English editing is a review of the technical manner in which a paper is written. In other words, English editors look for mistakes in grammar, spelling, citation style, and punctuation. They also review word choice, the clarity of sentences, and sentences that connect ideas to make them flow smoothly. English proofreading is slightly different – it is the last step in reviewing a document before publication to make sure it is picture-perfect. An English proofreader double checks spelling, punctuation, grammar, and word choice. They also ensure that formatting is consistent and look carefully to catch any “typos” or typographical errors that may have been missed before. Common typos are errors such as writing “to” instead of “too” or “butt” instead of “but.”
What Makes ESL Editors Different?
In fact, ESL editors do everything that regular English editors do, plus a little more. The primary aim of ESL editing is to ensure that a paper sounds like it was written by a native English speaker. One reason to hire an English editing service that offers ESL editing is because ESL editors are often familiar with the mistakes commonly made by non-native speakers. Of course, these mistakes can vary depending on linguistic background. A native Korean speaker will make different mistakes in English than a native Portuguese speaker. Regardless, many types of mistakes made by non-native speakers are consistent. An English editing service will specifically watch out for such mistakes and fix them so that your manuscript sounds smooth and natural.
What Are Some Common ESL English Errors?
English is a difficult language, and there are a million mistakes to be made. But as we noted above, non-native speakers do tend to make certain types of errors more often than native speakers. The most frequently made mistakes by non-native English speakers include:
- Subject-verb agreement (we is vs. we are)
- Improper use of verb tenses (when to use I had gone vs. I have been going vs. I went)
- Excessive use of passive voice (who is doing the action?)
- Improper use or omission of articles (a, an, the)
- Improper pluralization, especially when making generalized statements (a dog is friendly vs. dogs are friendly)
- Improper use of prepositions (of, for, by, between, with, in, on, at)
- Unclear sentence structure
Of course, native English speakers also make errors like these. However, non-native speakers often make them in a way that makes it difficult for an inexperienced reader or non-ESL editor to intuitively understand the intended meaning. An ESL editor who is familiar with both the subject matter of your paper and the mistakes ESL writers make is far more likely to rewrite your work so that native English speakers can easily understand, whereas a regular editor would be left guessing about the intended meaning.
Who Should Hire an ESL Editor?
How do you know if an English editing service that offers ESL editing is right for you? Just because you are a non-native speaker does not mean you need an ESL editor. Many non-native speakers can write comfortably in English or even better than native English speakers. This is especially true of non-native speakers who have received bilingual education or attended higher education programs taught in English by native English speakers. However, spending years in higher education does not necessarily make someone comfortable writing in English. As a non-native speaker, you may struggle to clearly express your thoughts or follow the writing standards set by academic journals, and that’s okay! English editing services that provide ESL editing are designed with you in mind.
Hiring English Editing Services
When you engage an English editing service for ESL editing, you should always be specific in what you want them to help you with. If there is a section of your paper that you are particularly unhappy about, or don’t know how to fix, tell them! They will make sure to pay attention and revise the writing in a way that makes you happy. If the journal you want to submit your paper to has specific guidelines, you should definitely share those too. They will help your ESL editor polish your paper, so it’s ready for publication.
When you hand over your precious manuscript to an English editing service, you should expect it to come back with many corrections. Never take offense to the corrections your editor makes. They are only trying to help you. If you disagree with the changes they have made, don’t hesitate to let them know. You can clarify anything you feel they have misunderstood or try rewriting it yourself to help them edit it so that you are happy with the final results.